When used correctly, a marketing automation platform can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of communications with influencers.
Every year, billions of text messages are transmitted. Most use as few letters as possible to say things like “What’s up?” (SUP), “I don’t know” (IDK) and “What about you?” (WBU) and are exchanged between people who know each other. However, organizations are also starting to find new uses for this technology - to send appointment reminders, password resets, emergency service announcements and service confirmations.
Many b-to-b organizations use a marketing automation platform (MAP) to create demand from new prospects and not much else, despite the technology’s potential in other areas. Because MAPs are perceived as powerful marketing tools, influencer relations professionals have shied away from incorporating them into their toolkits - for fear that influencers will be communicated with as though they are prospects or customers. In this issue of SiriusPerspectives, we introduce a three-phase approach to leveraging a MAP for influencer relations.
The first step is to integrate influencer contacts into marketing and sales databases, while implementing the following safeguards to protect these contacts from receiving inappropriately promotional communications:
- Contact assignment. In most organizations, the sales force automation system is integrated with the MAP; if this is not the case, contacts must be entered manually into the MAP. Ensure that contact information is up to date, and that no duplicate contacts exist. Assign all influencer contacts to a single contact owner from the influencer relations team who will act as the lead in managing and approving outreach to these individuals; this will ensure that influencers are excluded from general sales and marketing communications.
- Contact routing. Update routing rules within the MAP so that new contacts from known influencer domains (e.g. @company.com) are automatically assigned to the influencer relations contact owner for review. In some cases, a single organization (e.g. media outlet, analyst firm) contains both influencers and prospects. Create rules defining how rapidly these contacts must be reviewed and by whom, and define the process for assignment to either sales or influencer relations.
- Registration form options. Most online registration forms allow only prospect persona identification; however, there is value to be gained in measuring and reporting on the high-value content interactions of influencers. Ensure that online registration forms contain options that allow influencers to identify themselves. For example, add influencer categories (e.g. industry analyst, journalist) to the title dropdown list, and add influencer industries (e.g. analyst firm, media) to the industry dropdown.
- Send restrictions. Create a rule within the MAP that prevents contacts of certain types (e.g. analyst, journalist) or all contacts belonging to the influencer relations contact owner from receiving marketing emails. Influencer contacts also should be added to email suppression lists.
Using a MAP for influencer outreach facilitates visibility into the impact of influencer relations tactics and content types. The automation it enables is convenient, but the greatest benefits come from the insights it provides into trends such as influencer content consumption, Web site visits and behaviors, and areas of interest.
- Email tracking. It’s easy to report on who received an email message; it’s more challenging to determine who actually read the message or took subsequent action. Using a MAP, the influencer relations team can send trackable messages and receive reports on which influencers opened a message and/or clicked links provided within the email.
Use the MAP to optimize the influencer relations team’s time management, expenses, and ability to tailor and target outreach efforts:
- Automate outbound. Use the MAP to send all mass-personalized emails to lower-tier influencers. To do this, tag each contact’s value (high/low) via a field in the MAP contact record that appears only for influencer contacts. This field also can be used to implement nurture streams for new or up-and-coming influencers.
- Optimize inbound. Some MAPs enable the Web site experience to be optimized for individual visitors. The visitor’s IP address can be used to identify his/her organization and thus type of company, size of the organization and location. Alternatively, if the individual has previously filled out an online registration form or clicked from an email sent by the MAP, the MAP can leverage this data to personalize the Web site experience. Using these approaches, unique content (e.g. tailored messaging, unique content assets and offers) can be shown to influencers, or the influencer relations contact can be displayed more prominently.
- Social intelligence. Using a MAP to automate content publication via social media sites supplies influencer relations professionals with insight into the performance of social posts. Also, corporate Web site visitors who originate from social sites and fill out a Web form created in the MAP constitute a unique opportunity to grow the marketing database with influencers whose social accounts are tied to their names and identities. The result is rich insight into how different influencer types behave, and which messages attract them most.
- Behavioral intelligence. Through use of a MAP, the influencer relations team can gain insight into what content an influencer has downloaded or viewed on the supplier’s Web site and what emails the contact opened and clicked from. In addition, the MAP can provide alerts that indicate when an influencer is visiting the Web site, potentially identifying an opportunity to effectively reach out to the influencer.
THE SIRIUS DECISION
A MAP can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of communications with influencers (e.g. customers, analysts, journalists, social influencers) without a corresponding increase in marketing technology spend. Leveraging the MAP for influencer relations should be a joint endeavor between the influencer relations executive and the MAP administrator. Open lines of communication must be established so that both parties are clear about when centralized (administrator-owned) execution is most appropriate and when influencer relations professionals should interact directly with the system to develop and execute communications.